Genre not found
Artist not found
Album not found
Song not found

Hurt
Johnny Cash Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become
My sweetest friend?
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar's chair
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear
You are someone else
I am still right here

What have I become
My sweetest friend?
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away
I will keep myself
I would find a way

Overall Meaning

Johnny Cash's song "Hurt" is a powerful and introspective song about the struggles of addiction, isolation, and the realization of one's own mortality. The opening line "I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel" is a clear indication of the self-destructive behavior of the singer. The line "I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real" beautifully captures the notion that in the depths of despair, the only thing that can be relied upon is the physical sensation of pain.


The use of the needle as a metaphor for addiction in the lines "The needle tears a hole, the old familiar sting" is a heart-rending description of the cyclical nature of addiction. The repetition of the line "what have I become, my sweetest friend?" is a plea for self-examination and a recognition of how far the singer has fallen. "Everyone I know goes away in the end" is a poignant reminder of the inevitability of death and the alienation that comes from both addiction and the passage of time.


The chorus of the song, "You could have it all, my empire of dirt, I will let you down, I will make you hurt" is a stark admission of the singer's failures and the damage they have caused. The idea of an "empire of dirt" is a metaphor for the illusion of success that can be built up through addiction, leading ultimately to loss and decay. The image of the "crown of thorns upon my liar's chair, full of broken thoughts I cannot repair" is a powerful depiction of the feelings of guilt and shame that often accompany addiction.


In the end, the final lines of the song "If I could start again, a million miles away, I would keep myself, I would find a way" offer a glimmer of hope in the darkness. It is a testament to the human spirit's resilience, even in the face of hardship and trauma.


Line by Line Meaning

I hurt myself today
I inflicted physical pain on my own body intentionally and deliberately.


To see if I still feel
I wanted to test that I was still capable of experiencing emotions by causing myself physical discomfort.


I focus on the pain
Instead of avoiding pain, I am directing my attention towards it.


The only thing that's real
I am convinced the pain is the only aspect of my existence that is valid and genuine.


The needle tears a hole
The needle used for injecting drugs has the power to make me feel invulnerable but it comes with a price.


The old familiar sting
Even though it is not the first time I've experienced it, the pain caused by the needle still hurts intensely.


Try to kill it all away
I try to get rid of my emotional turmoil through self-destructive consumption of drugs.


But I remember everything
Despite my attempts to forget, I am fully aware of the consequences of my actions and the pain that they bring.


What have I become
I feel as if I have transformed into an unrecognizable and desolate person.


My sweetest friend?
The voice in my head that is asking me this question may be my own or it may be someone who is extremely close to me.


Everyone I know
Every person who is close to me or who used to be a part of my life has left and moved on.


Goes away in the end
No matter how much I want them to stay, everyone in my life inevitably moves on and leaves me behind.


And you could have it all
Despite being surrounded by disappointment and being painfully isolated, I have several material things that I could offer someone.


My empire of dirt
Despite all the material things I have, I am conscious of my own failure and I realize that it is what remains.


I will let you down
I am informing the other person that they should not rely on me and that I will disappoint them.


I will make you hurt
Not only will I let the other person down, but I will also cause them emotional pain.


I wear this crown of thorns
I have taken ownership of the emotional and psychological burden that I carry, which is exemplified by imagery from the Christian belief system.


Upon my liar's chair
I hold responsibility for my own situation, even though I might be dishonest about it, and it feels like I am sitting on a throne of lies.


Full of broken thoughts
My mind is full of erratic and broken thoughts that are a reflection of my emotional and psychological state.


I cannot repair
I am unable to fix myself and my thoughts, which leads to a feeling of helplessness.


Beneath the stains of time
My memories and feelings have been eroded over time.


The feelings disappear
As time goes on, I become less capable of feeling emotions and the ones I have fade away.


You are someone else
Because of my detachment from my emotions, I feel as if I have become a different person, and I can't emotionally connect to others.


I am still right here
Even though I feel changed and vacant, I am still physically present in the world.


If I could start again
I experience regret and wish I could begin anew.


A million miles away
This rhetorical distance is likely impossible to achieve, but it is a way to express how much I want to forget my past.


I will keep myself
This time, I will not allow myself to crumble and fall to temptation. I will take care of myself.


I would find a way
Despite it being difficult or unlikely, I am determined to find a way to rebuild myself.




Lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, O/B/O DistroKid, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
Written by: Trent Reznor

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on or correct specific content, highlight it

Most interesting comment from YouTube:

@walkerpilotassassin9404

This man saved my life. His words guided me through a darkness I never imagined walking through. Addiction to heroin is horrible. its so sad how people treat you.

I remember asking myself WHAT HAVE I BECOME,
saying EVERYONE I KNOW GOES AWAY IN THE END

I DID LET THEM DOWN, I DID MAKE THEM HURT.

Until i met my wife to be ..., and then i remembered he said

If i could start again, a million miles away, i would keep myself, i would find a way.

I did keep myself, i found a way. I started again, a million miles away.

A million miles away from the hell i was in. To the love, unconditional love from my wife.

My Pap admired this man. He played that song when I confessed my addiction.

He said he understood, and that I should try and do as he said, ajd he was right,

I found out the others were someone else, i am still right here 😊



All comments from YouTube:

@MrSpeed-lt8gr

I know I’m not the only one, but “everyone I know goes away in the end” hits harder and harder the older I get.

@wayshock0740

Your not the only one

@serpent3136

Well I’ll see you in the end hope somethings there ?

@neilcope29

Yep. Especially after "what have I become, my sweetest friend". Its a gut wrenching song, with different meanings, but both versions can rip you in two. Pure brilliance.

@ICE_1861

And we'll miss them. We always will. And is not a bad thing.

@charlyrae

They do all go away, don't they? The reality of "life" is that it always ends in "death."

608 More Replies...

@gabrielbarragan1472

I’m not afraid of dying

I’m afraid of everyone I care about dying.

@mr.maxilos4006

same

@gabrielbarragan1472

Marcus Witting 15*

@pedroreis8044

Me too

More Comments

More Versions